Two narrate seven-hour ordeal at the hands of security agents in Lamu - Beaking Kenya News

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Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Two narrate seven-hour ordeal at the hands of security agents in Lamu


Two Mpeketoni residents in Lamu county are nursing serious injuries after they were allegedly tortured by security officers in Lango la Simba area on December 21.

James Waweru and Eliud Kiarie, who drill boreholes for a living, had sunk a borehole in Garsen on December 18 and were returning home when their Ford pickup truck broke down at Lango la Simba.

They parked it at a compound in the area and proceeded home.

The two said they returned to repair it on December 21 and were working on it when about 10 security agents accosted them and started beating them.

The two said the officers accused them of feeding al Shabaab militants and supplying them with ammunition. The two denied the allegations, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

The said they were blindfolded and their hands tied behind their backs before being dragged to a containment area that they said seemed like a 20ft or 40ft container.

“It was difficult to breathe. The area was extremely hot,” Kiarie said.

They said they were kept in the area for about seven hours, from the time they were accosted around 8am to around 4pm.

“They kept on telling us to produce guns. We did not know what they were talking about,” Kiarie said.

Waweru said two of the security agents were dressed in 'kikoi', the traditional Swahili clothes. The rest were in uniform and were carrying guns.

One had an axe whose handle he used to hit their knee and elbow joints.

“One was tall, and he was the one who beat us the most,” Waweru said.

All this while, the security officers kept demanding that they produce ‘the guns’.

“They had nails that they pierced our buttocks with,” said Kiarie, who had big wounds on his behind that prevents him from sitting.

Waweru’s buttocks and thighs have torture marks.

According to the two, the officers said one of the cylindrical tools they had was used to throw bombs, but the two explained that their equipment is used to drill boreholes.

Their explanations did not help.

After torturing them for more than seven hours, the officers asked for details of where the two stayed and who their area chief was.

Once they got that information, they called the chief who identified them.

That is when they were released.

“They took us back to where they picked us,” Waweru said.

Muhuri rapid response officer Francis Auma said security officers in Lamu and Tana River have been harassing residents in the name of fighting al Shabaab.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration has gone overboard. Every now and then we get reports of security officers torturing residents. What do the intelligence officers do that they cannot differentiate between genuine residents and militants?” Auma posed.

He said even if some of the victims of security agents’ harassment have cases to answer, violence is not the way to deal with such.

He called for an inquiry into the torture.

“IPOA should intervene as fast as possible. No one in this country is above the law,” Auma said.

Muhuri has since reported the incident at Witu police station under OB Number 10/23/12/2020.

“We are pursuing justice for the victims,” Auma said.

Waweru has been drilling boreholes and wells for 10 years and has done so in Lamu and Tana River counties.

Lamu county commissioner Irungu Macharia told the Star he was not aware of the incident but promised to inquire about it and brief the Star on what happened.

Muhuri chair Khelef Khalifa on Wednesday said there have been serious human rights violations in the stretch between Witu and Mpeketoni ever since the infamous Mpeketoni attacks between June 14 and June 17 that left at least 60 people dead.

He said while Lamu residents are frequently harassed, elected politicians do nothing about it.

“These violations will go on so long as our politicians are not united to speak in one voice against this. Human rights organisations can only do so much,” the Muhuri chair said.

He said politicians have the opportunity and platform to speak about extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, but fail to do so.

“In fact, in most cases, they side with the government even if the people who elected them suffer under the same government they side with,” Khalifa said.

He, however, said the problem lies with residents.

“We elect leaders who can make us laugh on podia instead of looking at their background and determining whether they are capable of truly representing us.” 

Khalifa said most of the elected leaders don’t have proper skills or knowledge to deal with the problems facing the residents.

“That is our problem.” 

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